How To Get The Most From A College Class

Thinking about taking a college class? Here is how to make the most of this learning opportunity as an undergraduate or graduate student.

Going to college means more than forking out the steep cost of tuition and textbooks. Taking classes requires the student's initiative at several junctures to ensure a positive experience and productive outcome.

Here are some of the many steps a student should be prepared to take when enrolling for a college class:

1. Follow registration guidelines and due-dates. Submit forms and fees on time and as directed. Find out ahead of time where and when the class is taught, and by whom.

2. Come to class a few minutes early to find a seat and pick up a copy of the syllabus, which is an outline of class activities for the term. At the first class take note of announcements and study the instructor's manner to find out if he or she takes a relaxed or a more rigid approach to the course, as the same will likely be required of you as a student.

3. Listen respectfully when the instructor or other students are speaking. Don't be afraid to speak up, but don't monopolize the class discussion. Participate in small group work but don't talk to others when the teacher is speaking.

4. Observe timelines for assignments. Don't ask for favors or make excuses. Hand things in on time. Follow guidelines, and when you aren't sure, ask the instructor.

5. Seek additional help if needed. Most instructors welcome questions by e-mail or phone, or during their regularly-scheduled office hours. In addition, many campuses provide tutors through the Learning Center. Some colleges offer mentoring services or study groups. Find out which services are available and take advantage of them. Or form your own study group with classmates.

6. Turn in professional work. Sloppy, incomplete, or careless work reflects a similar attitude in the student. Doing a good job creates a positive impression and helps build self-respect as you learn and practice new skills.

7. Get involved with extracurricular activities. Social events, religious services, and holiday programs are great ways to meet others and learn more about campus life.

8. Balance class with other commitments. Family, job, and a social life can compete for your attention while in college. Protect your class and study time to be sure you are learning all that you should. The general rule of thumb is two hours of homework for every hour of class (per week).

9. Ask questions. The only "dumb" question is the unasked one. Instructors, other students, staff, and administrators are available to help you succeed. So don't be afraid to ask for information any time.

10. Drop a course rather than fail. If you're having problems keeping up in a class, or other things in your life demand your attention right now, withdraw from the class by getting your instructor or adviser to sign the drop form. If done early in the term, you may be eligible for a partial refund of the class fee. It's better to take the class later than force yourself to take it under pressure and end up failing, which will hurt your grade point accumulation (GPA).

College provides a satisfying opportunity to advance education and learn life skills. Make every class count as you work toward a degree or enroll just for fun.

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